Hezza: City has a rosy future

Date: 14th June 2011

Publication: Liverpool Echo

Former Minister for Merseyside Lord Heseltine spoke of a “wonderful transformation” as he returned to Liverpool’s Garden Festival SITE.

He was invited to have a glimpse of the new look gardens ahead of their publc opening at the end of July.

Lord Heseltine was the driving force behind the original International Garden Festival in 1984 which aimed to revitalize tourism and Liverpool following the cit’s decline.

Now, £3.7, has been ploughed into the site to help restore it to its former glory.

†Developer Langtree will also build family houses at the site.

†A park area and grass land will also be available for public use.

Speaking to the ECHO about the site’s future, Lord Heseltine said: “It’s wonderful. I’m thrilled that it’s got permanent public access facilities.

“I’m more delighted that the site is being developed.”

Lord Heseltine toured the grounds with Liverpool-born Sir Terry Leahy, the former chief executive of Tesco.

The pair walked through the Japanese gardens, the MoongateWalk and over a bridge toward the Mersey.

The city’s International Garden Festival idea was borne after political unrest, economic decline and the Toxteth riots in the 1980s.

It was the largest urban reclamation programme ever witnessed in the UK and attracted £12.5m of Government funding.

Lord Heseltine added “Back in 1979 here was a lot of local skepticism with people saying give us jobs not trees.

“But the festival was a success.”

On the ongoing Local Economic Partnership, he said: “It’s transformative stuff and it’s almost unbelievable.

“I remember the Liverpool of 1979 to the way it is now. The overriding thing was that the people here have confidence. People here are bursting with ideas.”

The former Tory-minister asked then prime minister Margaret Thatcher to be relieved of his departmental duties to allow him to walk the streets of the city so he could see its problems first hand. He was central in getting the city back on track and explained that one of the city’s problems at the time was that people would not talk to each other. He said: “Today, Liverpool has fantastic opportunities.”

Lord Heseltine has been asked by David Cameron to produce a report on the Liverpool city region’s economic performance and has enlisted the help of Sir Terry Leahy.

Sir Terry said: “Liverpool has got a very good future and it’s building on the previous success.”

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